Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tignes Mid November


Increased snow cover at altitude this week, less snow lower down but the pistes are now complete and good down to Val Claret. Very quiet on the mountain.

Skinned up again to 3000m altitude. It’s amazing how much more you appreciate the ski back down when you have climbed up by yourself. It’s not even logical but that’s how it is. The off piste was powdery this time and deeper than last week. Managed a 6ft sideslip on a smooth rock as the snow slipped away due to the steepness. The skis have no edges at the moment so rocks and ice feel the same.

Aches and pains from the first climb last week turned out to be just teething problems. This week the arms and shoulders were fine, no shin problems and no tendon issues (medial, right knee). It was another nice day weather-wise – improving with altitude. Mentally I find it difficult due to progress being so slow. Cycling is less tedious due to the speed and constantly changing scenery but climbing at walking speed feels interminable. I find that it takes about 40 minutes for me to switch off to that and focus more internally, then time just slips by.

Nasal Breathing

I used nasal breathing all the way. It’s a good opportunity to condition the nervous system to higher CO2 blood content levels (hence more effective oxygenation). For the first 20 minutes it was a real effort to avoid breathing through the mouth, but then the body adapted and nasal breathing was fine. The average heart rate over 1hr 54mins was 151bpm so this shows how quickly the body adjusts to high CO2 tolerance if permitted.

Chi Mechanics

One fascinating thing about climbing with skis is that the “chi” mechanics is practically obligatory. If you try to “push off” from your support ski then it just slips away downhill with the skins failing to grip. Instead you have to use the glutes and core muscles to extend the hip and lift the centre of mass – then use gravity to topple forwards and then lift and recover the trailing leg using the posas muscles. The twist of the spine is also automatic due to using the opposite ski pole for support and lift. It is a very “upright” and mechanically natural activity – much more so than cycling. It feels good for the lower back.

I tried to take a more direct and steeper route – which was fine, but although it shortened the climb by 600m it took about 3 minutes longer – which was interesting.

The summit of the Grande Motte 3500m

The summit of Mont Blanc (Italian side)

Glaciers at Tignes

The summit of the Grande Casse – there is a glacier on the far side which is visible from Courchevel.

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